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Pine Richland’s Rushing Attack Too Much For Upper St. Clair in WPIAL 5A Championship 34-3

Written by: on Saturday, November 19th, 2022

 

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The Unstoppable Force vs the Immovable Object. A metaphor that is likely overused in football circles, but perfectly describes what the 5A WPIAL championship matchup was. Pine Richland’s dominant rushing attack against the Panthers powerful defense. In the end, it was Ryan Palmieri, Ethan Pillar, and the Rams multi-faceted offense that won the battle 34-3.

It looked like it would be close from the outset. The Rams made a quick stop on defense to start the half, then were forced to a three and out. Nearly. A fake punt on 4th and 4 kept the drive alive. Five plays later, Ryan Palmieri put the Rams into the endzone from four yards out and put the Rams up 7-0.

After the score, both teams traded tough defensive stops, including a sack from Mark Banbuty that forced a Pine punt. On the following offensive drive, Ethan Hellmann went to Aidan Besselman twice to move the Panthers to the goal line. The Rams held strong, with a 3rd down sack from Joey Perry, and forced USC to settle for a field goal. The Panthers wouldn’t get that close again for the rest of the afternoon

Two drives later, Joey Perry came up big once again. With just over three minutes left in the half, Perry sacked Hellman on 3rd down. The Rams would take advantage, marching down the field, leading to a 20 yard screen pass to Vasile Balouris that put the Rams up 13-3 at the half.

The third quarter would be defined by two long drives by both teams. In the first, the Panthers marched down the field but were once again stonewalled by the Rams pass rush and turned the ball over on downs. The Rams took advantage. Palmieri and Pillar moved down the field on a 12 play drive that ended with a 3 yard run from Pillar. At the beginning of the 4th, the game was already out of reach at 20-3.

The Rams added two more scores before the final buzzer. The results of Upper St. Clair’s need to convert 4th downs, and failure to do so. The first was a half yard dive from Ryan Palmieri. The second, a 18 yard sweep from Luke Rudolph with 55 seconds left, ballooning the score to 34-3 at the final buzzer.

What’s Next: The Pine Richland Rams will face off against a team that made the trip down to Norwin to see them win, the Erie-Cathedral Prep Ramblers. The Ramblers haven’t played a game since the end of October due to District 6 and 8 opting out of the PIAA playoffs.

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